Thursday, December 30, 2010

Um, hi.

So holiday visits can be kinda awkward when there's been a big (negative) change in your life. It's the time of year to see people not normally around everyday. On Christmas eve, I visited my Aunt's and some relatives I hadn't seen since last year. I did send out a mass holiday note of cheer saying, "Happy Holidays! Here's my new address and btw, hubby and I split and life sucks. Have a great New Year!"

So I knew they KNEW but still, we hadn't TALKED.

Sample conversation that awkward night:
Them: "zOMG, how ARE you!!"

Me (unsure of what to say): "Um, hi. My marriage ended. Other than that, you know, okay."

Them (sympathetic headcock not unlike the way a great dane considers the option of going out): "Oh wow. I'm so sorry."

Me (awkardly shifting): "Oh, pssht. I mean, there are children starving in North Korea."

Them (equally flailing awkwardly): "So what ELSE is new?"
Me (there needs to be something else??) "Well, I'm learning how to draw. And I just found out what 'moobs' are!"
::facepalm::
Actually, I do have a really awesome family, and they love me no matter what, and some of them have even been down dark roads too. Awkwardness is okay in a room full of love, even if it does waste some wine from the spraying and sputtering.

I confess to wanting to fast forward a lot.

Here's a post from my diary this past year:
. . . .
I bristled at the note of panic in the incoming text: YOU OK?????

Um, no. I'm not okay. I spent Sunday in a fetal position sobbing.

Monday I almost quit my job because the idea of leaving bed evoked panic. But so did staying, and in the end I went.

Tuesday I laughed with friends and I let their love for me form a little hammock and I lay in it and healed for a bit.

So no, I'm not really okay. But I'm okay sometimes.
This is life after you walk away from a 17-year relationship. Death & divorce are the top life stressors.

Divorce pending, CHECK. Death of a dream, CHECK.

I'm allowed to have a shitty life right now.

I congratulate myself on just going through the motions sometimes. I confess to wanting to fast forward a lot.

So please, check in on me. See how I'm doing. But please don't panic at my stress. I'll be okay in time. I'm sorry if I shut down sometimes. It's part of the process, I think.
. . . .

Looking back at my diary entries, I can see I'm doing better. There may have been two days in my entire LIFE where I spent the day in bed because I was too sad to leave and both those days happened this past year. I'm finding that it's hard to write about the rough spots right away. Maybe there's truth to the saying that comedy = tragedy + time. Though there's nothing funny about this scenario, I'm grateful that distance continues to offer perspective.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

friction when sliding together

I saw the play "Chapter Two" a few weekends ago, a Neil Simon play about a divorcee and widower falling in love. It was poignant and much more realistic than I expected and I found myself tearing up during the revelatory parts.

Closing off and pushing someone away because it hurts to open up. Being opened up. Accepting where others are even if it's not what you wished for. The friction of learning what another is experiencing and adjusting the fit with our own ideals and desires.

In a play (or movie), you get to see the pain of a misunderstanding from both sides. "Oh hey," I'll think, "look  how they both contributed to that." There are no bad guys, only the sting of communication gone awry. I root for them both.

This is why the arts and culture are important. They're all lessons. In real life, I want everyone to win. We have a chance, too, as long as we have the tools.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

on letting go.

Sometimes it feels like there are too many losses for my short lifetime.
"How you feel, or don't feel about another person says much about you. How they respond, says something about them. Think about that deeply. You may or may not know all of your reasons for feeling the way you do about that person. I suspect you may not have the whole story about them. It's possible that this person has some deeper issues that may not have anything to do with you directly. If so, it is best to let them have space to address them. It may take years. You can give of yourself and offer your love and support. If that person does not, can not, or will not love you back, then there is nothing you can do about it. That is their choice. And you don't want someone unless they are truly able to love you in return, right? Now, do not think ill of that person. The care that person has for you may be all they have to give and they are just being honest. Now back to you. I am of the belief that "Love Never Fails." I believe that once you love someone it does not die. But I believe that love is about giving and not getting. You must give them their request. That is in many ways a great gift of love, a gift of respect. You will have to go on. Time will heal your wounds. Allow yourself to feel sorrow and feel the pain now for the time of grief will pass. You will learn to live with the loss. You will always love that person but that does not mean you will not love again."

I needed to read this today. Thank you, anonymous forum commenter on the intarwebs.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

aqua-eyed boy

Aqua-eyed boy and I twisted pinkies and giggled at Lady Gaga's Bad Romance. "That should be our song!"

And so it was.

"I want your ugly, I want your disease. I want your everything as long as it's free..."

Nothing about this pairing seemed full of disease or doom. How could something so enjoyable be negative? I made a list of the things I liked. "Makes me laugh" was number 1.

There was more but that was the one that mattered the most.

We went out to dinner and chased eachother through the street afterwards, laughing.

And that's what healing began to look like for me.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

dream (interpretation: you [were] doing it wrong?)

I dreamt I was riding my bike down the street in a giant snowstorm. The streets were full of slushy, heavy snow -- 2 feet of the stuff -- and I could barely pedal. The effort was so great, the road so treacherous and slippery that I was disheartened. I kept falling down while laboring ahead. There was no other way to go but forward. There was no way out. There was a sense of urgency. I couldn't stop moving because I was in danger.

Then I got to the end of the street and faced an unusual intersection where cross streets splayed out in front of me like spokes on a wheel. I didn't know where to go. But there was no more snow. The hardest road was finally behind.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

It's just like diving. Practice. Exposure. Concentration. Acceptance.

It's funny. I'm starting to come to a place of rest about this year of upheaval. I'm writing more about serious topics because I'm allowing stuff I'd buried to come to the surface now that processing it isn't so sharp. But there are things that catch me.

Like, today was D's birthday. I used to like making him feel special, it was important to me. But now I can do nothing. Except feel guilty that maybe because of me, he is having a terrible birthday. I woke up and I thought "I hope he okay."

I have this thing I do now. I unconsciously find myself physically shrugging when I encounter something tough. It's like ripping off a band-aid. First I realize I'm holding my breath. Then I exhale slowly. And that's when I shrug. Involuntarily. I have to just move through the tough thing the way I used to make myself dive into water.

I could never bring myself to dive from the high diving board as a kid but I did jump. The way I did it was not to think about it. I just stepped off the edge -- think about it too much and I'd freeze.

Solution: don't think. Do.

I was uneasy off the lower diving board too at first. And so I concentrated instead on the physical motion.

You can wrap yourself up entirely in what your body is physically doing at any given moment if you try hard enough. Don't worry about the future yet, I'd think. The plunging hasn't happened yet. Worry about that later. And just like that, I'd pose and throw myself into the water. Then I'd climb out and do it again. Over and over, perfecting the arc each time until I grew to crave the sensation of the cold water rushing over me.

When I was a kid, we had to live in a motel for a month (house had sold and new one wasn't ready). My parents hated being cramped in one tiny room with two kids. I remember nothing about that time except the pool. I spent hours plunging into the water. Eventually even backflips got easy.

Confidence comes with practice. Life is practice.

So yesterday, when I was going through an old art notebook and found one of D's drawings, I took it out, sighed, shrugged, and put it away.

It hurt but I expected it to, and I moved through the pain with resignation. It's starting to get easier to find the sense of peace.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

"We learn about life by experiencing life..."

Quote I liked:
"Realize however, that at some point you have to actually take the plunge into the pool. Trying to analyze how water moves and how you can swim effectively by staring at the ripples in the water as you sit on the sidelines will have its limits. The time is rapidly approaching to simply jump in. Once in the water, you will know instinctively where you want to swim to next. You may think you do while you are on the bench, but hypothetical thinking is not reality. Sometimes you simply can't know for sure until you are in the situation. We learn about life by experiencing life, not by analyzing life on the periphery." ~Cary Tennis

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

odd feeling realized

So, I left a physical therapy appointment a couple days ago and driving home, I was struck by this odd feeling spreading throughout my body. I realized with shock that it was joy.

Joy, because I'm taking care of myself.

For a long time (ever?) I don't think I even knew how to put myself first. And when I left my long-term relationship, doing so was like ripping my Velcro-d soul from a bond that had existed for years. I don't think I ever believed I was worthy. Plus being with him was like being with the president: how could my meager existence matter in comparison?

The other part is the huge amount of guilt I felt. Leaving didn't mean I didn't hurt too, that I stopped caring, or that I wanted to cause pain. I was full of knots that I'm still untangling. I still have to fight thoughts about whether or not I deserve to be happy. So that feeling of joy -- hey, I matter too -- took me by surprise.

A hearty thank you to those who believed in me anyway. You don't realize this but your conviction held me as I went fumbling in the dark for my self-esteem.

Monday, November 29, 2010

threesomes?

This post is inspired by a previous comment:
"Let me know when you have the conversation about a threesome because I've always wondered how that topic is brought up too. LOL."
ha! Okay, this reminds me of a story someone else told me. This girl was visiting her boyfriend and things were about to get intimate when another guy popped out of the closet and was all "Hi!"

The female had not been notified in advance.

And that is how their threesome conversation went.

Among "normal" people, I don't know...!

Just search for the word "awkard" under Google images.
It will CRACK YOU THE EFF UP.
 

Sunday, November 28, 2010

He hadn't turned weird yet...

So, I went to a conference for work in downtown DC and met a fellow attendee wearing Army fatigues.

This isn't a "date" story so much as an "um, wow" recollection. The kind of "um, wow" that halts further contact. Not that he was a bad guy, just that we were uh, not on the same page.

So, this was the initial interaction:
Him: want to get a drink?

Me: no thanks, I'm on the heels of a breakup and just not up for it, but thanks.

Him: Okay.
So we leave the conference together to head to the metro and end up talking about work stuff. We paused at a monument on the way and, since he's from out of town, I offer to take a picture of him sightseeing using my phone. A stranger walked and said "Oh! How about I take the photo of BOTH of you!"

He hadn't turned weird yet so I said sure.

Then I emailed the photo to him.

Which meant he now had my email address.

I get home to the following email (condensed from about 3 pages):
"Hey, it was so nice hanging out with you. Sorry you're going through a breakup. You're an amazing woman. [Insert 17 lines of praise for all of my amazing qualities of which he has observed and fully stands as the authority on my awesomeness.] You know, If you change your mind and want to hang, I'm at xxx hotel, at xxx street address, in room xx, and -- don't worry -- I won't expect anything from you if you stop by. If you want anything, even to be held by a friend, I'm here. You can come anytime. You don't even have to call first."
Um, how did we go from "that's a nice design" to "come to my hotel?"

I sit on this for a week, not sure how to respond. I finally decide to write something short and sweet:
Me: "Thanks for thinking of me, that's thoughtful. I'm good."
He writes back [condensed from 2 pages]:
"I'm so glad to hear from you. I don't normally DO this but I just wanted to tell you that I was really hoping you'd come over. If you had, I would have been as naughty or nice as you wanted, even if you just wanted to sleep that would have been fine. I just wanted you near because you're so [insert myriad flatteries]. Miss you. Oh and my tomato plant didn't kick it, yay!"
I wait another week.

He misses me?

We talked about tomato plants?

I respond to this after a few days:
Me: "Thanks again for your nice email. I have zero interest in romance or dating right now. I'm not too comfortable talking about this so will just stick to work. Glad your tomato plant is better!"
His response (this time I'm cutting and pasting a snippet instead of paraphrasing. Misspellings original):
Him: "Before you think too harshly of me please understand that my suggestive comments towards anything romanatic or physical between us was meant simply as outlet for you to relax, unwind, and blow off some of the built up steam caused by all the recent events in your life. This no-strings-or-relationships-attached offer was very much a heartfelt and honest attempt at making you feel better. [snip] It was my belief that if I pleasantly, tactfully, and gentlemanly as possible, presented you with the possbility of a one night escape from relatity that I could somehow lesson the weight on your shouders. I was willing to be any kind of a friend that you needed that night whether it was a just a shoulder to cry on, a quiet place to rest, or a night of blissful ecstasy throwing all the worries of the world to the wind then forgotting the whole thing ever happened the next morning. I hope you understand that this... was about being the kind of friend who would willingly jump on a grenade if that was what was required in order to a friend."
Our exchange ended there. There just wasn't too much else to say.

Since I'm not too experienced in the pickup line world or even with dating a million people, I'm not totally sure if this is something he uses on everyone (if so, does it ever actually WORK???) or if he just acted weird around me. What do you think? Why would someone just spurt this out despite the absence of encouraging feedback? I'm sure he's a nice enough guy. We've all made social gaffes and maybe this was just one of those things. But really, guy. Really?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

complicated thoughts


Well, it shouldn't surprise me but somehow I hadn't anticipated it this soon. I heard that a significant ex has found someone new. I have no idea when. It could have been a while ago for all I know.

I remember being the someone new once and thinking that if it smarted for the old girlfriend, that I'd wish she could know that she hadn't been replaced, really. She was still special. And that there wasn't any vilifying of exes happening. But now I wonder: what does he say?

I have tried to handle this situation with as much grace as possible. I speak mostly of my own journey. I want only good things for those who were close in my heart. But it does hurt to consider being misunderstood.

I've been thinking about empathy lately. Not just the understanding of what life must be like for another, but the added stipulation that in those same shoes, we would do the same thing. There's too much judgment in the world. "I wouldn't do that!" we protest at the TV, advice columns, on line at the supermarket, in our heads hearing other's dilemmas.... But is that really true? If we were made of the same fibers, had the same background, same experiences, wouldn't we be that person doing those same things?

That doesn't mean that said action is excusable. But is it understandable? To truly empathize, one must consider the source as if one were that person. It's wrong to steal but suppose I were starving. It doesn't make it right but does make sense.

I hope I make sense.

I wish it were more visible that I mean well. How much I try. How much I care.

I was broken in my youth and so now I must rebuild.

Sometimes I want to hide until I'm done.
(But we're never done.)

I wrote in my last post about love. I have ideas but I'm missing the understanding of what it is to fully love oneself. This feels like a failure. But it also feels like an opportunity. Something to be discovered and explored. I've no map but I hope to find the way.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

what is love?

Someone commented on an earlier post where I lamented about love. "Perhaps you can write what you think/want true love to be," Anonymous suggested.

Hmmm.

I don't think I'm ready to think about this right now, really, but someday I hope to find a sense of home with someone.

I mean that intangible thing that happens when you're so comfortable you can be talking or quiet and still feel a connection. When you can throw your head back and laugh and totally lose yourself or be writing quietly and silently share a bowl of grapes. Where it just feels right to curl into each other as if love had blurred the boundary between. Joy at the simple sight of one another.

I also think lovers should be best friends.

I thrive on close connections. I am not satisfied with superficialities. When I ask someone how they are, I *want* to know. An honest and open dialogue is important.

I like a lot of down time too and so space is also key. I can be skittish if my reserves are low and if someone seems clingy or intense, it can trigger something in me which tends to make me close off (which sounds hypocritical given that I myself can be intense). So maybe it's a matter of being able to read each other.

Qualities that are valuable to me? Sense of humor, kindness, understanding, chemistry, intelligence. Feeling special. It also comforts me to see people take good care of themselves both physically and mentally. I like to see people doing what makes them happy: indulging in hobbies or whatever they find restorative and fun. The joyful and content make good company.

I'm not so unrealistic that I don't see the strain that a tough schedule or burdensome demands can place on a relationship. There's a lot of muck to everyday living. Laundry and bills and cat vomit are not hot (at least not in my house) and so it seems important to make time for fun, both together and apart.

What is love to you?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

learning.

I know what it feels like to be illiterate. To have all this feeling built up inside with no way to express it. I want to write, to draw, to pour out my complicated insides so that they're no longer caged but I don't know how.

I remember when my 2-year old nephew grew frustrated because he wanted more cereal but didn't have the tools to ask. He reached for the box and began to cry.

I reach for my pencil and want to cry.

I don't have the skill to create.

My insides still do not have a voice.

So I practice.

I gave up everything I knew to find a quiet place. And now I am arriving and but the journey's just begun.

Learning to draw.

Learning to see.

Learning to fall.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

my date with Scott Pilgrim


Have you seen the movie "Scott Pilgrim vs. The World?"

Well, I went on a date with Scott Pilgrim early in September.

I mean, not really. It wasn't supposed to be a date, and it wasn't really Scott Pilgrim. But it was with this 24 year-old guy that was Scott Pilgrim's dead ringer (with darker hair). I'd met him at a mutual friend's housewarming party and we talked about jobs. I saw his potential and was offering career advice.

He invited me to a bonfire the following week with a bunch of friends. I'd told him my age thinking that'd be all I needed to establish that it was NOT to be a date. Repeat. NOT A DATE.

He picked me up reeking of cologne and I immediately thought uh oh, he thinks this is a date.

We then picked up his younger friend (a kid who looked adolescent enough to be my son) and I tried to be chatty but he only grunted minimally, his face a mask of terror. After 45 minutes of this stilted conversation, we arrived and the friend peered at me hesitantly before getting out of the car, asking the only question he had all evening: "HOW old are you?"

Uh, yeah, I didn't feel awkward AT ALL.

So, all three of us walked over to the fire and observed a hundred drunken teenagers rioting wildly around the flames. Scott looked from me to to his terrified friend and back to me and awkwardly suggested, "Do you want to see the train car?"

The train car. Yes, I want to see the train car. Actually, I want to see THE car. A car. ANY car. Something with wheels which can go down the street in the opposite direction of arrival. Like, towards my house.

But that would make me a shitty guest (date?) and so, grateful for something to do besides take note of inebriated youth, I followed Scott and his terrified friend to a corner of the property which housed an ancient railway car covered with vines. We climbed onto a makeshift "deck" and I shifted nervously on the rotting planks before peering inside. Hazy figures huddled together behind a thick cloud of smoke, singing softly. Warmth at their camraderie fleeted across my heart before I realized what they were doing.

Greeat. A train car of kids getting high. Awesome. The awkwardness returned.

We carefully backtracked over the dilapidated platform down a rusty broken ladder while I mentally calculated my last tetanus shot. Then we awkwardly grabbed some seats by the fire so we could awkwardly not talk.

Terrified friend began drinking. I saw his face loosen slightly from a tight rictus of fear to shy smile. Suddenly he stood up. "I want to go swimming!" He exclaimed, and ran after 30 other people who had darted impulsively into the thick, black woods.

Swimming? Drunk? Scott and I looked uneasily at eachother. "Um, maybe we should keep an eye on your friend," I said. "I mean, it's not totally safe to mix alcohol and water."

"Yeah. but I don't know how to get to the lake so we have to hurry and follow them."

We began running after the youngsters into the darkness. We caught up to them on a narrow path which suddenly disappeared. "Watch out! We're on a cliff!" someone said. A collective hush of nervousness went through the crowd and we all stopped, strung our hands together, and resumed smashing through the brush single-file. Every once in a while, cries of pain filled the air from the thorny brush or twisted ankles.

I suddenly realized I wasn't following any of my normal forest protocols, which is to maniacally identify from a great distance any leafy substance which might contain the thing that turned the left half my face into a bumpy, scaly mess of fire all those years ago. The first vacation I would have in a year was scheduled for the following week and I quickly imagined it spent heaping calamine lotion onto a shroud of poison ivy blisters.

We finally got to a sliver of shoreline on the lake and (why I didn't expect this, I don't know) almost everyone immediately ripped off their clothes and dove into the water.

Everyone, that is, except me and Scott and terrified friend, who handed me his sneakers and slowly waded in, jeans and all.

Scott looked at me affectionately on the beach as nubile bodies streaked from shoreline to water, splashing and flirting and shrieking.

Channeling Kelly LeBrock from Weird Science.

 He put his arm around me and smiled.

I pointed to his arm, unamused. "THIS," I said, "Is a bad idea."

"What's a bad idea?" he asked, nuzzling me.

Me: "THIS." Pointing again to his arm. "There is too much of an age difference."

Scott: "But my parents have an age difference and it hasn't bothered them."

Me: "Yeah, but you can't bring home a girl to meet your mom who is your mom's age."* (*Not that bad actually, but close enough.)
More nude bodies exited the water, glistening. I tried to stare someplace that was not uncomfortable, and announced that I was ready to leave.

An exodus from the shore began and we trampled through more brush on the way back. This time one of the hands I held was the small, cold hand of the terrified friend who suddenly turned expressive from alcohol. "You're so beautiful!" he exclaimed, over and over. I wondered if I was the first to hold this wet hand, and gently guided his both innocent and incoherent form carefully past the thorns while Scott led the way.

And that was my adventure as Kelly LeBrock for the evening.

Friday, November 5, 2010

I Walked - Sufjan Stevens

Lover, will you look at me now?
I'm already dead to you
but I'm inclined to explain
to you what I could not before
Whatever you didn't do, what you couldn't say
I am sorry that the worst has arrived
For I deserve more.
for at least I deserve the respect of a kiss goodbye

Tell me, do you think of me now
as I think of you?
For I could not have shaken the touch of your breath on my arm
For it has stayed in me as an epithet
I am sorry the worst has arrived
For I'm on the floor
In the room where we made it our last touch of the night

I walked, cause you walked
but I won't probably get very far
sensation to what you said
but I'm not about to expect something more
I would not have run off
but I couldn't bear that it's me
It's my fault
I should not be so lost
but I've got nothing left to love

Lover, will you look from me now
I'm already dead
but I've come to explain
why I left such a mess on the floor
For when you went away
I went crazy. I was wild with the breast of a dog
I ran through the night
with the knife in my chest
with the lust of your loveless life

I walked, cause you walked
but I won't probably get very far
sensation to what you said
but I'm not about to expect something more
I would not have run off
But I couldn't bear that it's me
It's my fault
I should not be so lost
But I've got nothing left to love

I walked, cause you walked

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Awkward...! (aka, size does NOT matter.)


I met one of my most recent guy friends on Craigslist, of all places. He placed an ad a while back asking to meet someone NOT for romance but instead to share like anguish from a breakup. We arranged a tenuous meeting at Starbucks, learned that neither of us is a serial killer and we now talk regularly. We joke around about the state of our hearts and the awkwardness of dating. Last night in art class:
me: So, yeah, we've never met and he's always texting me "Good morning, beautiful!" I mean, the first time was flattering but now I'm getting overwhelmed. Here look. Look at these long texts. "You're worth the wait." Huh? What wait? What worth? He doesn't even know me.

him: You've never met?

me: No. We were going to -- I found him online before I deleted my profile. He's one of the ones that I thought okay, as long as we agree that this will JUST be friends, I'll go through with the date. But then I got sick and busy and so the meetup never happened.

him: Huh. Yeah, I understand. There's this one woman who keeps telling me about her body. I don't know why she's always talking about it.

me: What does she say?

him: Like, she kept telling me her pants size size. Six or seven, whatever that means.

me: I guess she wants you to know she is thin and attractive.

him: Whatever. It's a total turnoff. And then she started to talk about more details that I don't need to know.

me: Like what?

him: Like "I am very large up top. VERY large. Like, it's very noticeable." She goes on and on about this in emails.

me: [giggling] You're kidding! I don't think I've mentioned a single physical attribute to any of the guys I corresponded with. I mean, they saw pictures, that's enough.

him: Yeah, it's completely repulsive. I only want one person, my ex, and this other stuff is just stressing me out. I know it's supposed to be good for me and all but man, I hate it.
me: Yeah, me too.

This morning I got a text from him (my friend) poking fun at our situations:


So uh, yeah. In case you didn't already know this, size doesn't matter. It's a mix of chemistry and sensitivity and timing!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The heart has its reasons

Image from Sarah Heinrichs (click to visit her photostream)
This past weekend, I was struck by this snippet in the This American Life show Frenemies about a scorpion who pleaded with a turtle to fetch him from the shore to cross the water (this segment is about 40 minutes in) . The turtle was hesitant; "won't you just sting me?" he asked, and the scorpion answered, "Well, if I did that, I'd kill us both!" The turtle thinks for a moment and decided this made enough sense to risk trusting the scorpion.

He fetches him and no sooner is the scorpion on board that he drives his stinger into the turtle.

They both sink into the water, drowning. The turtle cried out in distress, "why did you do that!!" The scorpion, equally confused by his suicidal actions, replied, "I don't know, it's just what I do!"

It was the after paragraph that  stirred me the most though:
What can we learn from their watery end?
Is there some lesson on how to be friends?
I think what it means is,
central to living a life that is good,
is a life that's forgiving.

We're creatures of contact
regardless of whether we kiss or we wound,
still, we must come together.

Though I may spell destruction
we still ask for more
since it beats staying dry
but so lonely on shore.

So we make ourselves open
while knowing full well
it's essentially saying
please... come pierce my shell.
Everytime we open ourselves to caring about someone, we also open ourselves up to hurt.

The past few weeks have been hard for me. I have met some wonderful guys recently who seem to appreciate me but I'm just not there. And I can't force it. I'm not ready for my shell to be pierced by anyone new in my life. (*Established loves or crushes greater than a year may be exempt.)


The heart has its reasons which reason knows not. 
~ Blaise Pasqual 


Chelsea talks about this on her blog (snippets included here):
I've managed to rack up more than one perfectly dateable, solid, great guy who thinks he can change my mind. And you know what, selfishly, I'll let him try... I'll let him try because I don't think I'm a total lost cause. I'll let him try because I believe in romance and love and connection and that whole "soulmate" thing. I'll let him (them) try because I believe amazing magical things can happen... I'll let him try because he knows that he's "trying..." 

I'm a girl who doesn't have the ability to make the distinction between someone "right" and someone right now. I'm a hurt person running the risk of hurting other people...

You let him make you laugh, then you let him say, "I'll go to war for your heart..." and you revel in that, because the one that was "right" didn't say that. And probably never will. SO, you let people adore you, because as much as you don't think you're worth adoring....

See her full entry (goddamn does she rock) -->
Still, I have an enormous sense of peace having come to this acceptance. I'm enjoying my drawing class. I come home from work sometimes and throw everything down and grab my sketchpad like a drowning woman, ignoring hunger and thirst and discomfort just for the chance to scribble. And I allow myself to drink from these strange, new, foreign waters within until something shifts inside and I'm no longer submerged. Life is good.

I have more to write but will have to save that for another time. I'm still getting lots of texts, calls & emails from the few new guys I've met since starting this blog despite the "I just want to be friends" honesty. Sometimes I am flattered and sometimes I am uncomfortable. I'm still sorting much out.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Alas, Edwin the Unbearable was not meant to be.


So, Friday I got a lipoma removed, which is basically a ball of fat. Which, I guess, is basically what I am, except this thing didn't also have a central nervous system.

Yet.

I decided not to name it though I toyed with the idea of calling it Edwin the Unbearable.

The procedure was not as relaxing as I hoped. I now understand what it feels like to have a scalpel scrape across the abdominals. It is not something that would be enjoyable repeating. I also learned something else that was useful: the epinephrine anesthetic, while enthusiastic at inhibiting blood flow (a plus during any surgical procedure), does not really work on muscle fibers. I heard the staff discuss this after they peeled me off the ceiling. Three times. "We didn't realize it was going to be this deep," they explained. Note: next time, request the stuff that actually works on ALL tissue.

So today, the area was particularly tender. The doc checked and determined that I was just doing a bit much but was otherwise okay. They wanted to see me again in a month and sent me up front to make an appointment with the receptionist. This kind of thing happens all the time at doctor's offices, right? People make appointments and stuff?

Here's the ensuing convo that occurred:
me: I'd like to make a followup appointment next month for a wound check (thinking if I am using the EXACT SAME lingo the doctor told me, they should know).

receptionist: For what?

me: A wound check.

receptionist: Why?

me: To... check... the... wound?

receptionist: What for?
me: They said they want to check it in a month.
receptionist: Why?
me: To see how it's healing.

receptionist: For what?
me: To check it! (wanting to scream THIS CANNOT BE THE FIRST TIME YOU EVER HEARD THIS!!)
We finally started speaking the same language, I made an appointment and bolted.

Now I am exceptionally tired and cranky and going to bed in 3...2...1...zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!!

Friday, October 15, 2010

It's not you, it's me. See, I'm changing into another species.

I'm not exactly sure what's happening to me this month except that I seem to need great swaths of space around me. I thought it would be healing to try dating but in reality, it was wearying. Still, I think I needed to exhaust myself in order to emerge from some kind of inner swamp.

me, aka: swamp thing

I'm not really sure where to go from here, but that's okay, I don't need to know anymore. I don't really know what the face of healing looks like but I suspect this may be it.

The most painful thing about this process is that I seem to be hurting others by withdrawing. It's unintentional, but I'm doing a lot of "it's not you, it's me," explaining these days.

Did you ever see the Star Trek episode where the hot doctor lady falls in love? The end is steeped in heartbreak.

"It's not you, it's me," her lover says, his voice cracking with emotion. "See... I'm changing into another species...."

I dropped to the floor and howled right then. I still fall over laughing just thinking about it. Best line ever! I mean, if you didn't want to see me anymore, just tell me! You don't have to go changing your species and all.

But seriously, maybe this IS what's happening.

I know what it's like to be on the other end, thinking, "If I were more ____ [insert adjective], then it'd work!" but my frailties are not a barometer of external worthiness. If I could will the heart around, life would be so much easier. But alas, it is far simpler to mutate into another being.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

trust.

Pardon the vampire reference but I just came back from seeing the movie Let Me In.

I think the appeal of dating casually without romance (the reason for this blog) was that I didn't have to let anyone in. Didn't have to risk getting hurt. I've been burned and I'm now shy. In this way, I now pass on the curse carried by my previous beau. Those who've been bitten by the dual-fanged vampires of love and abuse carry the burden of inner confinement forward. But without risk, I'll never discover the opportunity for joy again.

I'm scared.

This past year has seen many endings. I don't take loss well, I think. Part of me feels it's respectful to pay reverence to those things of great import with repose, quietly meditating their myriad meanings. They've led me to where I am today and I am grateful for the lessons learned, even if painful. Knowledge is expensive but oh so worthy. A moment of silence, please.

However, I realize I can't stay in place forever, and so tomorrow I will quietly tiptoe into the future.

“We're never so vulnerable than when we trust someone - but paradoxically, if we cannot trust, neither can we find love or joy.” ~Walter Anderson

Thursday, September 30, 2010

144 cans of black beans, just in case.


I tweeted:

"Last week's date said he had 144 cans of black beans at the ready. What does this say about a person?"

Reply, from @kylecassidy: "That you want to be with him when the zombie apocalypse happens."

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

well, that was short. Deleted dating profile.


So, I deleted my online dating profile Sunday.

I'd gone on date #2 with the guy I'd met just a couple days earlier. He was warm and nice and easy enough to talk to, and so even though the date seemed too soon, I thought fuckit. Whatevs, just go and have fun.

We had a nice time. I felt more awkward than I expected but granted, he was still a complete stranger and comfort levels take time to grow. I did feel a little like I was auditioning for a part in a screenplay. He wanted to know all about me. Did I like to cook? What are my flaws? (Quick, tell all so I can see if they're dealbreakers!) What did I do in my spare time? I answered each question and he warmly smiled and said "Aaand?" like he wanted more.

Over dessert, he looked at me, puzzled. "Hmm. You look different in different types of light."

I nodded my head with resignation. Yeah, different flaws are accented from different angles, blahblah. I know this.

"I want this one!" he kidded, pointing at me and exclaiming that the lighting overhead was particularly nice, better than the bookstore.

This is the female brain: "He noticed the hideousness!! Well, there goes any daytime activity."

Still, the date was good enough. He's a genuinely nice guy. I had a sense of appreciation for being able to meet a stranger and, for an evening, enjoy eachother's company. These experiences, though brief, do feel enriching in some way. Letting someone into your life, even temporarily, is a gift in itself and I appreciated his company for the evening. Something inside me was shifting towards friend-zone though; maybe it was that he was pushing too hard for a level of familiarity we didn't have.

But I sympathized; I know what it's like when you want something bad enough that you hope to mold people to fit the shape of the hole that exists inside. Having heard his story and his honest admission in realizing he'd been looking for a replacement for his wife, I could see the remnants of these desires at his edges. I could also tell he would make a wonderful companion for someone. I didn't know if it would be me just then -- was still operating on my multiple-date-before-judging rule -- but he seemed like a genuinely good guy.

The end of the date was awkward. He asked if he could kiss me on the cheek and I suddenly felt uneasy. I said yes -- I mean, so what? -- but it was an uncomfortable moment. I was suddenly more acutely aware that he wanted to move quickly forward. I'm aware that I sound prudish but whatever, I can't change those feelings.

All week, he's been sending nice messages and texts, asking me to call and text and email back. I've been polite and formal but cordial. It takes time to click, right?

Saturday I went out with friends and we shared dating sagas along with additional stories of unrequited love (proven to be mitigated quite nicely by steak on a stake and funnel cake, I might add). It was a lovely, relaxing afternoon; a wonderful break from the flurry of fast-paced dating activity.

The next day, I met up with a friend of a friend for what was to be a study session and suddenly something else inside shifted. I didn't want to do this anymore, this meeting of new strangers and working at conversation. Comparing actual easy conversation with what I originally thought was easy? Wow, what a difference. I'd rather just be alone then and hang with friends.

And so I deleted my profile.

I told myself I would carry through the two future dates I had planned so as not to back out, and also that I would see each guy again (there were three) again. If nothing else but friendships developed, yay! Enriched life. But no more new people. It felt right.

next: date #3.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Love, the meaning of life and everything, including our inner toothpaste-wielding brat.


I've been spending a lot of time thinking about relationships. What makes a relationship successful? What preconceptions do we carry with us into one and burden our partners with? How could we improve and become better people?

I think this boils down to two very simple concepts: I want to treat my partner with the same appreciation and wonder felt during courtship and I don't want to drape my burdensome agenda over their shoulders (instead embrace them for who they are).

This sounds simple but how many times have you seen couples exhibit contempt for each other? Ugly behaviors like eye-rolling and snide remarks -- would those work as pickup tactics? No. Why, then, do people feel free to unleash unkindnesses on eachother? I know they say familiarity breeds contempt but why? We have control over how we act; there's no need to be mean. Those things erode trust which is the entire foundation of a relationship. How can any of us feel safe with someone who has hurt us or continually hurts us? Repairing what is broken is never as easy as preventative maintenance (a concept that works with both engines and people) and so it seems imperative to remember these things.

About the agenda thing. Say I want person A to pay more attention to me. How do I get what I want? Maybe I ask. Maybe I unconsciously pout. Maybe I unknowingly set up conditions. But if it's something that doesn't come easily or naturally to the other person, my request isn't quite just. When people care, they want to please but is it really fair of me to demand that they go outside their comfort zone for my sake? Then I'm trampling their needs to advocate for my own but when did mine become more important?

I want to remember to look out for other people's well-being the way I would a child: unselfishly (which is really hard as my inner id is also a child who may even happen to be throwing a tantrum right that very minute involving a large banana, a box of crayons and a tube of red toothpaste). The brainpower I have for self-examination during times of stress or perceived threat is exceedingly small and so I want to remember simple rules of appreciation, gratitude and acceptance.

To be truly thoughtful, I think I owe it to be honest to those around me. They can't know what I need if I don't say it. But I also need to ask in a way that isn't scary: there can't be conditions or heavy emotion. (How terrifying would it be if a pilot screamed "HAND ME THAT!!!!" while pointing wildly at something instead of coolly requesting said item?) Method of delivery is everything, right? I feel this is so important. And so I'm trying to pay attention to how I express myself.

Also, I need to give those around me the freedom to be honest without repercussions or they will shut down.

If I ask for what I need but they can't deliver it and then I get upset, then I've just made them feel guilty. They want to make me happy -- don't we all want to please those we care for? If we can't, maybe it's because of some frailty or timing or something, but it's not on purpose. I've never disappointed someone out of sheer vindictiveness.

Like right now: I'm supposed to call a relative who expressed feeling neglected, but I'm exhausted and fighting a cold and really just don't feel like being on the phone right now. It's not her, it's me. Intent is everything, is it not? Our entire legal system is based on it; the sentence someone receives from killing another human being hinges largely on intent. Why shouldn't our closest relationships also benefit from similarly charitable consideration? I'm not picking up the phone, but I still love her and hope to explain tomorrow.

I also think healthy people pick partners who show signs of being available in the ways they need. It's easy to replay toxic patterns learned in childhood but it's not productive. This is why I'm a huge advocate of mental health and why I feel it's so important to continually and rigorously undergo self-examination.

What do you do once trust is breached? Misunderstandings DO occur. A relationship without conflict is a relationship without intimacy. The reward of being emotionally close is enormous, however; I'd never want a union that just skimmed the surface. To truly know another person is a wondrous gift. If you take away our ambition and our skills and our work and our money and our health and our time (we will lose all these things anyway someday) what matters -- what's left -- are our connections. However, I don't really know what to do once trust has been breached. It's awfully hard to regain. It's inevitable though, given that only those closest to us can wound us so deeply and so despite the difficulty, we must try to heal. I think it's important to understand what led to the breach (harder than it sounds), then we can learn from it and forge a new path paved with compassion, forgiveness and mercy.

Which brings me back to the first point: treating loved ones with appreciation and reverence.

I want to remember how lucky I am to share my space on this earth with those I love, how their simple presence has brought me joy and changed me. What a beautiful gift they've given by leaving a mark on my heart.

It's hard to feel that way in the midst of hurt and pain but when time has gently smoothed the frayed edges of souls, are we not a richer fabric from our experiences?

Friday, September 24, 2010

letter to self


So I tried an exercise. I split myself in two, the hurting part who's trying to get over someone, and the part that loves her hurting friend and just wants to wrap her arms around her and hold her. And tell her it will be ok. And it helped -- I am actually feeling better. Today is a tough day but I am handling it with as much grace as possible. It makes me feel some measure of hope to think that what is now isn't what always will be.

Dear self,

You are a beautiful and worthy human being. You are sweet and kind and genuinely care about people. Yes, you are hurting now, but you should know that one person's reaction to you doesn't define you. If there is anything that is your fault in that painful scenario, it is in believing that someone else's frailties signify your worthiness. Your own frailty is in hoping that love and will alone is enough.

This is a painful process, this putting one foot in front of the other and moving forward. You don't know where it will land. You've successfully embodied the teachings of buddhists who say "live in the moment!" to the point where it's hard to imagine a future in which you will be in love again and feel loved back. I know it feels like that will never happen, but you are doing the hard work now that points to being in a stronger place later (the magic 8 ball says "all signs point to yes").

Some days all you can do is breathe.

So, breathe.

When you are in a place where you can climb again, you will... put one foot in front of the other and attempt to ascend this mountain.

You are now building a life for yourself where you get to call the shots, you get to decide what you want it to look like. In the past, it was defined by others. Now it's defined by you. That's scary, you don't know how. Having never quite done just this, you're unsure of your footing, but that's ok. You will make mistakes and learn from them. Like a baby learning to walk, you will fall down and get up and try again and again. It's not the falling down but the staying down that matters.

So fall, often.

Love, as much as possible. If the love isn't returned, well, you loved irregardless of it being returned, right? You gave it because you could not help it, you felt that way and it was a beautiful gift, it shows that you are a person capable of deep caring. Don't be scared to do this over and over again; one of the most beautiful gifts we can give in life is to truly care about another person. That doesn't make you bad. Yes, it hurts, but that you were able to experience that kind of depth alone is worthy of recognition. One day your efforts will be returned to you and you will be surrounded by the kind of love you can freely give. It's hard to picture now -- you don't know what that will look like, but it will be there. Because if you can give love like that, some of it is bound to return.

love,
me

Thursday, September 23, 2010

dating and the interview process


Fuckit, I can't sleep so may as well write.

Tonight's date was originally supposed to be just coffee but he pushed for dinner so, fine.

This whole exercise was supposed to get me feeling hopeful again, to be part of the healing process after a breakup. I didn't expect to actually like anyone right away. I told myself that I wanted to be feel special, to be cherished. I *said* those things because I think they're important, but I don't know that I believed I could have them, that I was worthy or that I really even understood what it meant. But here is someone who looks like he might be capable of having a healthy relationship and fuck, he even looks like he could be into me. And I think this terrifies me.

I'm not done mourning the loss of my previous relationship; accepting that it's over. So this makes me simultaneously realize how attached I am to someone else and also how much work I have to do on myself in order to have a relationship.

But there was something in his eyes that grabbed at me. Maybe it was the warmth, or maybe it's something that reminded me of my first love all those years ago. Whatever it was, it shouldn't have shaken me awake but here I am trying to sort out the mess in my head.

In any case, a simple look is not enough to tell about chemistry, not enough to shake the bonds that already tie me, not enough to predict compatibility or even if I will feel anything the next time I see him. But it was, apparently, enough to rouse much thought. I'm not quite sure what to make of it all.

First impression?

This date reminded me of the time I applied for my current job.

I'd almost backed down from submitting my resume, having had an existential worthiness crisis the morning I planned to drop it off.

I called the girlfriend who'd been coaching me through the application process and said, "Thanks for your help but I'm not going to apply." She was shocked. "Why not?" I told her I didn't think they'd hire me. I fought back tears; I thought I was being realistic. I'd read the list of what they wanted and then read my resume and felt woefully inadequate.

She gently encouraged me to apply anyway. "Let THEM decide if they don't want you." And so I relented. I dropped off the whole application packet and fled, hoping no one saw the red-eyed girl flinging an envelope into the giant IN bin before vanishing.

Fast forward to the morning of the interview. I was terrified. The only thing I felt sure of was my general suckitude and so I told myself to just look at the whole experience as practice, since I am at least fairly certain that, although I suck at many things, I can get better if I try hard enough. I didn't think that day was here yet though and so my expectations were very low. I at least enjoyed my current job and, if nothing else, this was a useful exercise.

Then I remember a funny sensation coming over me during the interview. I started to feel comfortable; something that had never really happened before. I almost forgot that I was being judged. My sense of time and space melted away and I just, was. Talking felt natural.

It was then that I realized I should be paying as much attention to how I felt about them as they were about me. I knew logically that chemistry in the workplace is important; I'd turned down jobs before that'd been lacking, but never had the experience of being comfortable. It baffled me.

They offered me the job and to date, it's been one of the best jobs I've ever had.

So last night, sitting at the table chatting over dinner in my "on" state as if I were with a business client, I suddenly realized I was actually comfortable. Relaxed. It wasn't difficult to be present; something that can be rare for me sometimes.

I go out and do things, sometimes to make myself get out of my comfort zone, to expand. It's not necessarily easy, especially emerging from a shell of shyness, but I instinctively understand it's good for me. And so I socialize and do things that are hard for me all the time. It's draining, and so I need much down time, but rewarding because I constantly feel like I'm growing. And it's getting easier.

People who meet me think I'm extroverted and friendly but really, I do work at it. It's fun work; I genuinely like people -- establishing connections offers huge amounts of meaning -- but does take effort.

So it's surprising to me that meeting this new, strange person felt so effortless. It caught me off-guard.

A followup date is already scheduled for Friday. That's maybe too soon, but whatever. I don't have a map and I don't really know how I'm supposed to be doing this and so, here goes.

Monday, September 20, 2010

pick your username wisely. Just sayin'.


Something I've learned about myself recently: I am biased against usernames. I mean, did these guys seriously think these are good choices?
  • I_need_it_bad
    (if you need it that badly, go buy it because I don't operate under pressure.)
  • Raoul_the_wolfboy
    (are you aiming to consume dates? I'm just not sure what to make of this one.)
  • dashing-gourmetchef
    (if you say you're "dashing" then I think "not humble" and that's not very dashing at all.)
  • DoMe
    (no thanks.)
  • NiceGuy7
    (if you SAY you're a nice guy, are you really?)
  • ADateWithYou12
    (this just reminds me of the zillion dates you go on.)
  • 2gether4ever
    (ack! I've got cold feet just glancing at your username!)
  • IHavePowers
    (Well, maybe the powers one is alright. I would laugh at someone named "I_have_skillz": cue Napolean Dynamite.)
Also a turn-off: mentioning how much sex you want or how sensual you are in your profile. That's so highly private and really a chemistry thing to be uncovered privately between two people. Really guy? You're going to broadcast that?

And another thing. Don't IM me, after reading that my profile says FRIENDS first (meaning don't touch me) and say "a date with me comes with a kiss!" And when I reply that I'm not so much into that type of thing, respond: "Relax. You need to loosen up." ::BLOCK::

This whole process has been very, um, interesting.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

aaand... online dating commences

So, I *know* where the goddamned aquarium is. It's only THE central point of the most central part of Baltimore.

But I was so nervous when heading there for yesterday's blind date (my first in what FEELS like a lifetime) that I somehow veered off the exit ramp in the wrong direction.

No problem, right? I have a phone with a GPS, I can recover.

I plugged the coordinates in to backtrack but somehow neglected to notice that I requested the "walking directions" option and thus got lost again and somehow ended back up on the highway.

Fine, no biggie. I figured I'd get off at the next exit and turn around, only the Universe hates me and planned to make this clear. EVERY ENTRANCE RAMP was closed due to some kind of inanely-planned construction doom and I could not get back onto the highway without slowly snaking through traffic-snarled streets via circuitous detour. Clock ticking all the while as I grew later and later for a date I was already delayed to in the first place.

I hate Baltimore.

(Really, I hate myself for having absolutely NO sense of direction AT ALL... at least not when nervous.)

Also, I realized when I left the house that I hadn't eaten yet. Not a single bite since the previous night. It wasn't a food-oriented date and I began to worry that I'd pass out in front of the jellyfish, so I grabbed a can of chicken soup and figured I'd drink it in the car since I didn't have time for proper care and feeding of myself. Yes, you read that correctly -- soup CAN be consumed while driving (IF in the proper to-go container). However, I was less than graceful when I tried to remove the revolting layer of fatty globules floating on top and somehow smeared chicken fat onto my passenger seat.

Beginning date FTW.

Fast forward, through the stages of anger, denial and acceptance over the chicken fat incident and misplaced spatial lobe incident: I parked, gave the lot attendee a bag of gold coins and the rights to name my firstborn and headed to the agreed-upon meeting spot.

I saw him leaning up against a brick building and wondered if he'd recognize me. I only have one photo accompanying my profile and it's an indistinct one at that, evidence of the halting manner in which I began this process. But he waved right away. The mantra I'd been obsessively turning over in my head for the previous 24 hours ("pleasedon'tgooglemepleasedon'tgoogleme") proven predictable.

He googled me.

(You can do that, you know, with just a phone number.)

But at least he didn't call off the date. I worried he would have but surprisingly, he said it helped him feel he somehow understood me. I was uneasy. "What did he see? How much?"

Note to self: stop living life out loud.

(P.S. to self: you know you won't.)

(P.P.S. I'd like to point out that beginning another blog about an even more intimate aspect of life, like dating, isn't particularly well-aligned to the above-named objective.)

Anyway, back to the date.

He was a perfect gentleman, laid back, entertaining, polite, easy to talk to, everything I would have requested for a perfect entry back to the dating world. This means that the rest of this blog post gets boring, since the only thing wrong with anything in this scenario is (as usual) me.

*sigh*

I left the date with a full head, processing much. Do I like him? Did he like me? Do I really want to do this again? Why do I feel so shut down inside? I knew why but I didn't like it. My brain begged for the respite of sleep but I had evening plans. So I hiked up the music and began a long car ride happy to at least have the time to think.

I understand this much about myself: most of my great loves have started lukewarm, and so I have made an internal agreement: I will give a date followup time before dismissing.

Later that night I wanted to send a followup email thanking him but wondered wait, wouldn't that violate some unwritten protocol of not seeming eager? I hesitated and then thought fuckit.

I didn't care if I ever saw him again, really. If my being polite turned him off, whatevs. I sent a message and promptly fell into a deep sleep.

I woke to a nice return thankyou. So he's not playing by unwritten rules either, which is nice. He appreciated my note. Whew. We can have an honest, real dialogue, at least. If nothing else, it's the foundation for a friendship.

I still don't know what to make of all my complicated thoughts though -- I'm trying to follow my gut, but it is groggy and half-asleep. Still, me and my impaired intuition march on.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

hhhhate foodshopping.

I started composing this before I moved (during a particularly epic bout of Food Jenga).
I absolutely LOATHE foodshopping. The entire process of picking, choosing, planning, and securing a week's worth of food sends chills up my spine. I would rather write six TPS reports than figure out the ingredients needed for five days of home-cooked, free-range, pesticide-free, locally-grown, animal-cruelty-free meals whose cost rivals the gross domestic product of a small developing nation.

It starts when I try to delay the whole thing. I begin playing the game Let's Graze on Air in an effort to redeem previous bad decisions and see how long I could last on lukewarm cans of white cannelini beans and stewed tomatoes.

I called a friend recently to whine about the horrors of modern hunting/gathering.

me: "I cannot STAND foodshopping."

friend: "yeah?"

me: "YES. The PLANNING. Like, remembering to get chicken stock, but then why buy something I can make, and then wanting to brown the meat but oops, I've run out of sherry, and forgot if I used pepper in the flour last time or not, and darnit, I only have peppercorns, not pepper and the peppercorn grinder is broken. And cutting all the fat out is so time-consuming."

friend: "huh."

me: "There's like, 2 hours of cooking for a meal that takes 15 minutes to engulf but an hour to clean up! And that doesn't even include the hours it takes to buy it all and put it away. Yuck."

friend: "Um, I don't really have those problems."

me: "Really? Huh. Well, so then I start to play this game of Ingredients Jenga. Like, what could I do with odd groceries lingering around. How could I piece things together to make a meal?"

friend: "That's kindof weird."

me: "But it helps me avoid foodshopping."

friend: " "

me: "Don't you do this? Doesn't EVERYONE?"

friend: "Um. No."

me, incredulous: "You don't try to see how long you could live off the food you already have? Like see if you could take that can of coconut milk and mix it with rice and spices and canned chestnuts?"

[crickets]

me: sigh
I have an entire cupboard of things I can't stand but somehow ended up in the house anyway: a five pound bag of (what looks like) poisonous mushrooms from China, 17 cans of sardines from my mom, 11 year-old bean thread noodles that I don't know how to cook and a galactic supply of 8-year-old raisins.

The raisins were a point of contention. After the third move (they took up one entire cupboard), I wanted to scrap them. "Do we really need this many raisins?" I asked."They can't possibly still be edible. I mean, don't they expire or something?" (Heh. Somehow I could see eating a 12 year old bar of chocolate but raisins, now, that's another story.)

I would say this story ends well, but really, it just ends. The raisins were finally tossed, but the sardines, well, I ate them.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Something I haven't wanted to discuss


If you're in a relationship, sometimes you probably feel like you're fighting a caged death-match with an invisible spider monkey. And the monkey is rabid. And you don't have any legs. And then a buffalo jumps in there and starts head-butting everything and your face catches on fire and there is a general atmosphere of chaos. -Hyperbole and a Half's relationship advice

This isn't something I know how to talk about. Indeed, I hesitated posting this because it's so highly personal, and while I like to dredge up embarrassingly funny stories, I still play by unspoken rules: DNDO. Do Not Discuss Others. (Well, unless they're a proselytizing stranger.)

I try to honor the privacy of my friends and family. This is *my* online journal and thus topics are limited to *my* neuroses.

And so I am woefully unprepared for how to talk about this.

My husband and I separated recently.

You don't spend 17 years with someone and then walk away from eachother easily. It is agonizing. Wrenching. Extremely painful. I drive home from work having imaginary conversations -- with my boss, his family, my niece and nephews. Everyone wondering what happened? Even in these imaginary conversations, I cry. And I cannot explain it. Sometimes death seems like an easier loss to discuss. But the death of a marriage? The death of dreams and ideals? How do you talk about those?

I spent some time thinking about the stigma of divorce. How I will have this label, be judged. Then I thought well, there probably isn't a person on this planet who has not felt the pain of an ended relationship. Most people have even experienced both sides: being the one left, and leaving. It's absolutely and utterly wretched either way.

It once took me 4 years to get over an old beau (before husband). The stages of healing happened almost imperceptibly. I drove a lot then, just to have a private place to sing aching songs of loss. One day I noticed 5 minutes had gone by where I didn't think of him. Then 10 minutes. Then 20. It was a very slow process. I learned the hard way then that it cannot be rushed. It's like a physical wound -- if someone stabbed you in the heart, however long it would take to mend is what it takes. You just cannot speed up the process no matter how hard you try.

But oh my god, living in that in-between stage is awful.

Relationships are complicated. Anyone in one knows it constantly takes huge leaps to bend and shape two lives together.

To love is exhilarating. To lose that love one of the most painful experiences one can endure. While suffering, it's hard to imagine anything could be worth that much pain.

And yet... I still believe in that old cliche: it's better to have loved and lost then never to have loved at all.

If you see me in the hall, the supermarket, a BBQ, I will not know how to talk about it.

I probably will steer the conversation away as I won't want to cry in front of you.

I won't know how to tell you what went wrong even if I think I understand in my heart. And even then, I will doubt myself as I rewrite the story of a relationship gone south, constantly shifting the "why" in an earnest attempt to understand.

I asked someone dear to me recently, eyes welling up with tears, "What do I say?" She looked at me kindly and, with a hug, said, "Those who love you won't ask why."

She didn't ask why.

Despite the pain, I'm trying to look at our relationship with a sense of gratitude. But how do you thank someone for loving you?

A grateful murmur of thanks to those who understand that "why" doesn't come in neat 140-character tweets, or even lengthy blog posts. I am too choked up to write much more.


"There were some things I wanted to tell him. But I knew they would hurt him. So I buried them and let them hurt me." ~Jonathan Safran Foer

"Relationships are like glass. Sometimes it's better to leave them broken than try to hurt yourself putting it back together." ~Author Unknown